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Are we ready for children to have full access?

Thinking a bit about the implications of the OLPC project. Let’s say it’s successful and the project delivers millions of units as it plans. That means in just a few years there will be millions of children who are connected to the web…most of them “unsupervised.” Not unsupervised in relation to the hoopla with MySpace…maybe “on their own” would be a better description.

The concept reminded me of one of my favorite books, Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card and its subsequent sequels. (You should read all the books in this series…they’re a must!) Among other plot lines there are two characters, Peter and Valentine Wiggin, who are brilliant children that conduct a worldwide political discussion in the public forums in order to begin shaping public policy. They use the names of John Locke and Demosthenes and remain anonymous to the world, so no one knows that they’re only around 12 years old. They end up creating a political climate in which Peter, writing as Locke, eventually becomes the political uniter of the world. (That’s not a great summary, but you get the gist.)

Now, back to the OLPC and the title of this entry. Are we as official adults and productive members of society ready to give up power to those children who will have more access to, and understanding of, the latest information and technology? It’s kind of a rhetorical question, because I don’t think it matters if we are or not, they’re going to take over. How long will it be?


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